Pros: Nice high elevation, picturesque, exotic.
Cons: Horrible service, expensive, mediocre hill, lame facilities for the day skier.
We visited Valle Nevado on Sept 4, 2012. It was a miserable experience, mainly due to the actions of Valle Nevado ski school.
Just a general comment on skiing in Chile: Chile does not cater to day skiers. The resorts are built and designed around destination skiers that stay in their hotels. Consequently the service towards the day skiers is bad. Day skiers are literally second-class users of the facilities. Neither Valle Nevado nor Portillo have a lodge per se like resorts in the US and Europe. There is nowhere to sit and rest except the restaurants, nowhere to stow your gear, etc. No wifi or any other amenities unless you are a guest in the hotels. No real accommodations for day skiers period.
Our day at Valle Nevado was a disaster (see below). Chile was partly redeemed by our visit to Portillo the following day. The same complaint about resort snobbiness towards day skiers applies, but at least we weren't flat out abused at Portillo like we were at Valle Nevado. Plus the terrain at Portillo is superior, and the views and ambience much better than Valle Nevado. The road up us much safer; even though longer, it is worth the extra half hour it takes to get there from Santiago.
So with regards to Valle Nevado, except for the prices, Deer Valley it ain't. All ski areas are snooty, but at least in the US and Europe the ski areas have a policy of customer service that is generally respected by employees. Not so in Chile generally, and Valle Nevado in particular.
The bottom line is, skiing in Chile is fun and exotic, but your dollar value is much better spent at comparably priced resorts in the US or Europe.
The following is a copy of the letter describing the conflict we had at Valle Nevado. I wrote the letter to Valle Nevado management, and personally handed it to the general manager's secretary, but consistent with the contempt this organization appears to have for its customers, I have not received a reply (and don't really expect one).
"September 4, 2012
Avenida Vitacura 5250 #304,
Vitacura, Santiago – Chile
Ricardo Margulis, General Manager
Andres Marangonic, Ski School Manager
RE: Our day at Valle Nevado, Tuesday September 4, 2012
Gentlemen, thanks for your attention.
My wife and I are currently living in Sao Paulo. Our assignment ends this month of September. While we were in South America, we wanted to ski in Chile. We arranged to have two of our grown children meet us in Santiago, for two days of skiing.
We are avid skiers from the Rockies, but our home is now near Washington, DC. We have skied all over the US, and also in Europe. We were so excited about finally being able to ski in Chile; it had been a dream of ours for years.
It was no small sacrifice to have our kids fly down from the States, and for us to arrange a vacation during the last month of our fiscal year, and to fly over from Brazil. Considering those sacrifices, professional and economic, I often worried that we were doing the right thing.
After a lot of preparation, including renting a car, renting ski gear for our family in Santiago, and taking the long winding road up to Valle Nevado, we finally made it. We all love the mountains, and the views and high altitude were exhilarating. We bought our tickets and made our way down to the area near the ski school, and started putting our skis on.
Then, one of your ski school instructors, a young woman who I found out later is named Zelinda, accused our daughter of taking her ski poles. Having walked down to the staging area with my daughter, I was pretty sure that the poles my daughter had were the ones that she had carried with her. My son, my daughter and I insisted that Zelinda must have been mistaken, but Zelinda was quite adamant that my daughter’s rented poles belonged to her. She called my daughter a liar, and insinuated, if she didn’t say it outright, that my daughter was a thief.
Many angry words were exchanged after that, and I’m not proud of losing my temper. As far as I was concerned, Zelinda could have the poles, if it was so important. I left my daughter and son in the staging area and went to the ski shop buy some poles.
When I should have been skiing, I stood in line at the store for the better part of an hour, but I finally got the poles. On my way back to ski, I found my daughter, who said that another instructor had come by and informed everyone that indeed, the poles did not belong to Zelinda. However, my daughter was so upset by the shock of such rude treatment she was no longer interested in skiing.
I got a refund for the poles, and returned to the staging area to get ready to ski. I ran into Zelinda and asked for an apology, which she owed us, considering we never had her poles in the first place. She refused, saying that I was the one that needed to apologize. More heated words were exchanged. Then a male instructor came over, (later I learned his name was Javier), and I tried to explain our side of the story to him. I said … “y esta”… (referring to Zelinda, who hid her nametag from me, I didn’t know her name at that time.) Immediately, instead of listening to my side of the story, Javier started to lecture me on the impropriety of using “esta” instead of some other pronoun.
I realized at then that a serious analysis of the situation was pointless. Javier and Zelinda were not interested in hearing my version of events, they were more interested in saving their pride. So I left and went skiing.
Later I caught up with my son and we took a few runs together. After about an hour of skiing, my son told me the lingering memory of unpleasant events with Zelinda and Javier had wrecked his day, he wasn’t enjoying himself and wanted to leave the resort.
So we went down, and took our skis off again near the ski school staging area. I saw Javier and Zelinda standing together. I approached them so that I could see their nametags. My intention was to report the incident to management. Instead, Javier wanted to bring someone named Andy over to discuss it, but after Javier’s earlier cynicism, I did not see any further discussion as potentially fruitful. So I told him I was going to write to management, and his parting words were “Usted es un maleducado!”. He said it, over and over.
My son apparently didn’t like his grandparents insulted in this way, and responded to Javier inappropriately, (and if my son wasn’t a grown adult, he’d probably be punished by me for what he said to Javier.)
In summary, there was bad behavior and language exchanged in both directions. This unfortunate event brought out the worst in everyone.
After all our efforts and expense to get to Chile and Valley Nevado, and after purchasing tickets, one of us did not ski at all, and two of us for only an hour or so.
(By the way, on the way home we stopped at the rental store, and sure enough, the poles were indeed those we had rented. Zelinda was dead wrong for accusing our daughter of stealing her ski poles).
In addition to getting things off my chest, there is a reason I’m taking the time to write you about it. As those responsible for the success of your organization, I’m assuming you’d like to know about incidents that affect visitors to your resort.
As I mentioned before, we’ve been planning this trip for a long time and have traveled many miles and spent a lot of money to get here. We’re on vacation and we want to leave the world’s troubles behind for the short time we have.
Instead, our first encounter with the Valle Nevado organization is to have my innocent and sensitive daughter falsely accused of theft by arrogant ski instructors, who are not even capable of the minimal courtesy of an apology when the truth is discovered. Instead of enjoying a pleasant afternoon in a beautiful location, we end up with heaps of bitterness and regret.
I’d like to hope that we can forget this exceedingly unpleasant event and remember only the exhilaration and awe of your beautiful resort. But frankly, I think you can appreciate why I’m not inclined to risk another visit to Valle Nevado in particular, and Chile in general.
If you care about the impression people take home after visiting your resort, teach your employees to respect visitors and to appreciate that visitors are the lifeblood of the resort. Maybe when there is confusion, instead of jumping to the worst of conclusions, your employees could be trained to give the paying customer the benefit of the doubt.
Very truly yours,"